|Luke 18:14 |
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."2
1 Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus within himself, 'God, I thank you, that I am not like other men: robbers, swindlers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'
But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
When entering prayers to listen for God, you cannot go thinking you are saved and there to claim a gift or demand a prayer to be answered based on your supposed righteousness. You have to go to him, knowing you are burdened with a selfish, sinful nature, which you hope the Lord will fully reveal and remove, making you fit to be a part of him. You must approach God in humility.
The Pharisee was not just lacking humility, he was very judgmental. From the word of the Lord within: "Be blind to the faults of others." In addition, his claim of righteousness was to fast and tithe, (sacrifices and dead works), but nothing about love, pity, or mercy; his heart had not been changed by listening to and following the Lord's voice. The Lord desires mercy, not sacrifice. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13.
God does not hear sinners, John 9:31, who are complacent in their sins, who are not striving to repent and turn from their evil ways; but if a sinner goes to God in humility, and asks for his help to become free from evil, or even asks God to show him if there is anything standing between them, then God will certainly hear and answer. For he would have us all to be free from sin to enter his kingdom, and for that purpose Jesus stands ready to redeem us from all iniquity and purify us, to produce the fruit of the spirit, thus to bring glory to the father; for by your producing much fruit, my Father is honored and glorified, and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers]. John 15:8. Heard from the Lord by a reader of this site, as loud as someone standing next to him, "I only hear a prayer of a righteous man and a prayer of a sinner who comes to repent."
A righteous man has been freed from sin; all sin is unrighteousness, 1 John 5:17. To be righteous, one must practice righteousness as did Jesus practice righteousness: Little children, let no man deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous, 1 John 3:7. From the Word of the Lord within: "there is a righteousness imputed at death;" death of your selfish spirit on the inward cross of self-denial, when you receive the fruit of the Spirit, against which is no law, to then walk in love, obeying the continuous commands of Christ. When we possess the fullness of Christ, that ends imputation, and we will be righteous as He is righteous.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16. An effectual prayer is one in which the Spirit of God supplies the words to pray; from the Word of the Lord within: "If told what to pray for, they can be extremely effective."